In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the brothers of the Epsilon Beta Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma in Louisville, KY and did an interview with Darryl Young Jr. the president of the chapter.
The position of president of a Black fraternity chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Young, who is a manager of programming, has served as the president of the chapter for 10 months.
We interviewed Young and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
Being President is a distinct honor to me. To be trusted to lead a group of men, most of which are my senior, who are all accomplished in both their professional and personal lives, is deeply humbling. Epsilon Beta Sigma has been around for over 91 years, to be able to hold this office in a chapter with that kind of longevity and legacy is a task that I don’t take lightly.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
This year we participated in the local March for Babies walk and Relay for Life (which supports Cancer survivors). We also hosted our annual Chester E. Smith Golf Scramble, with proceeds benefiting KYAAC, Kentucky African Americans Against Cancer, and will host our Dr. Sam Robinson Scholarship Gala, which will raise money to provide scholarship money to local youth in Louisville. Our Sigma Beta Club also helps mentor young men in the city and helps them with life skills, tutoring and college exposure and readiness. As we move forward it is my hopes that our chapter can be involved in more grassroots community building efforts and do more outreach and engagement.
What made you want to pledge Phi Beta Sigma?
I didn’t grow up around any of my family who went to college. Both of my parents only completed a few semesters before they stopped attending. I didn’t really understand much about college outside of that it was instilled in me that I had to go to be successful in life. Although I didn’t know much about university life I have always been passionate about making a difference. I wanted to be a part of something that was doing its part to give back to community and be a force for good. Those were the things I found when I was introduced to Phi Beta Sigma. I fell in love as soon as I heard the motto, ‘Culture for Service, Service for Humanity’. As I learned more and more about the organization, the initiatives it undertook and the men who had come before me, I knew that this was a legacy I not only wanted to be a part of, but contribute to in a meaningful way.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
I don’t know how unique it is, but I can say that Epsilon Beta Sigma has an amazing amount of spirit and work ethic. I have seen this chapter rise to the occasion time and time again to complete events and pull off projects. Brothers will work their tails off to make sure things get done and are always willing to go above and beyond when necessary. I think part of that is because there are so many brothers in our chapter who know how to lighten the mood and joke around so that its always a comfortable and fun environment.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think alumni chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
The world is digital. All of us are addicted to our screens. It’s imperative that alumni chapters have a robust on line presence so that they can effectively reach our audiences. I think we’ve lost the luxury in thinking that our names alone will drive interest and engagement. We have to be effective storytellers, and a lot on that is driven online. As rich as all of our organization’s histories are, many folks outside of Greek spaces question the relevancy and importance of Black Greek Letter Organizations. Having a strong digital identity helps us control our narrative and show the world not only what we’re doing, but also why it’s so necessary.
What does leadership mean to you?
There is an old African proverb that has stuck with me throughout the years. “He who wants to be king in the future must first learn to serve.” To me a leader’s defining trait is their commitment to serving the people. A good leader doesn’t lord over the people. An effective leader is a great listener who hears people and does their best to deliver what they need. Leadership is about empowering others to do for themselves and unlocking their own greatness, and elevating people based off their potential and promise. A good leader isn’t afraid to be in the trenches with the people to get the job done.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is important because it gives a much better picture of what Black Greek Life is. So many times others (sometimes ourselves even) shrink its significance down to only stepping and strolling, when our organizations are leading and implementing some of the most innovative programs and initiatives around the world. It’s vital that we have outlets like this that can not only shine a light, but also be a call to action for others to join in on the work that we are doing to help our communities live up to their potential and possibility.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood to me is a bond. I barely knew any of the people in the chapter I pledged, but once I became a member we became family. We weren’t family by blood but family by purpose. Family by mission. Family by values. I still get a great feeling whenever I meet a new brother because we are automatically able to bond over the letters that we share. As Black men we face a common misconception that we can’t get along, that we hate one another and don’t value each other. Especially if we come from different places. That myth is easily dispelled though when I see someone with 1914 or GOMAB on a hat or shirt and I grip them up. This brotherhood has allowed me to go all over the country and never feel alone because I know there will be Blu and White there to link up with.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
EBS is able to provide advisers to our local undergraduate chapters and be a resource for them when they plan and host events. We also collaborate with them when possible on their service projects and invite them to ours.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Darryl Young Jr. for his work as the president of the Epsilon Beta Sigma Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1928.